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What Should I Do if My Surgeon Acts Negligently?
When we go to the hospital, we expect all of the doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals to take care of us and treat us to the best of their ability. Medical injuries and poor surgical outcomes are never expected. However, serious errors can happen. When those mistakes lead to life-changing injuries or even the death of a loved one, it can be devastating and traumatic.
If you find yourself wondering, “what to do if my surgeon commits negligence,” Morgan & Morgan can help. We have been handling medical malpractice cases for decades, and we are always available to assist you. No matter where you are located, we can help. We have offices and attorneys throughout the entire United States. Over the years, we have recovered more than ten billion dollars for our clients. Let us help you recover the compensation you deserve. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for a free and confidential case evaluation.
What to do if your surgeon was negligent
It’s possible that you won’t know right away whether or not your doctor was negligent. Keep in mind that just because you have a poor surgical outcome or you aren’t happy with how things turned out that doesn’t automatically mean that your surgeon was negligent. If you believe that your surgeon acted negligently, you can consider speaking with your doctor or other hospital staff. Do this before you let them know you think they did something terribly wrong, and before you tell them you hired a lawyer. This way, they will be less inclined to start making up stories and covering things up in case they were negligent.
If you’re able to frame your discussion as just being concerned about your surgical outcome as opposed to asking about financial compensation or threatening a lawsuit, you can hopefully get the truth out of them. This is important for your health as well. The first thing you need to know is what happened and what exactly the problem is. If you worry your surgeon that a lawsuit is coming, it can make it really difficult for you to get the truth and ensure that you get all the treatment you need.
If you clearly still have medical issues after your surgery, the next thing you should do is contact a medical malpractice attorney. They can assist you with all the next steps you should take. Your lawyer can help you obtain your medical records, speak to your surgeon or other hospital staff on your behalf, and ensure you’re getting the care that you need to rectify the situation. When you choose an experienced lawyer, they can also help you determine if what you experienced was actually negligence, or just bad luck that led to a poor surgical outcome.
When is a surgical error considered negligence?
Many people wonder, “What to do if my surgeon commits negligence.” If you find yourself in a place where you believe your surgeon might have acted negligently and you’re wondering what to do and how to make this determination, a lawyer can help. However, it can also be helpful for you to understand what negligence really means in this context and how you can help prove it in court if it comes to that. The following are the elements that must be proven in a medical malpractice case in order to be successful with the claim:
The first element that must be shown is that the surgeon owed you a duty of care. This is generally simple to prove. Did you hire the surgeon, and did the surgeon agree to be hired? Since they performed surgery on you, the answer is almost certainly yes. This shows that a doctor-patient relationship existed, and therefore shows that they owed you a duty of care.
The next element you must show is that the surgeon breached the duty of care. In other words, you need to show that your surgeon was negligent. This is more than just a simple mistake. Not all mistakes are considered negligence. In order to show a breach of duty, you must provide evidence that the surgeon failed to meet the standard of care for a surgeon in their specialty. Would any other reasonably prudent surgeon in similar or the same circumstances have acted in the same manner as your surgeon? If yes, it may not be negligence. If not, and you can show that their care fell below the standard of care, you can satisfy this element.
In addition to showing that your surgeon was negligent, you also have to prove that you actually suffered injuries. If your surgeon was negligent but nothing negative happened as a result, that’s not enough to win a medical malpractice suit.
In addition to suffering injuries, you must prove that your injuries were caused by your surgeon’s negligence. If your surgeon was negligent but that didn’t cause your injuries, you won’t be successful. For example, if you are just unlucky and end up with an infection after surgery, but it has nothing at all to do with your surgeon’s negligence, and those are the only injuries you’ve suffered, you likely wouldn’t be successful.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit after my surgeon was negligent?
All states have different timelines, so it depends where your surgery took place. This deadline can also change depending on your age – for minors, the statute of limitations is often extended. You should discuss the deadline with an attorney, but generally, you have anywhere from one to three years to file a lawsuit. If you’re not sure how long you have for a claim to be filed, you should reach out to an attorney right away to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines. Time passes quickly, so don’t hesitate.
Do I need an attorney to deal with my surgeon’s negligence?
While it’s not a requirement that you get an attorney, it’s definitely a good idea. Without experience and legal training, it’s possible that you won’t even know if your surgeon was legally negligent to the point where they can be held liable for your injuries. Additionally, if you try to speak with the hospital on their own, they’ll likely reach out to their own attorneys who will quickly take over the situation.
Hospitals have attorneys on staff whose sole job is to try to make sure lawsuits are avoided. Sometimes they might make a quick small settlement offer just to make the issue go away. In many cases, you would be entitled to significantly more money than what they’ll offer you. When you hire a lawyer, they can deal with all the legal aspects of the case so you can focus on physically getting better. You don’t want to find yourself in a situation where you aren’t entitled to compensation anymore because of a technicality that a lawyer would have assisted you with.
What kind of damages can I receive if I’m successful?
If you can show that your surgeon was negligent and you’re able to prove all of the elements of negligence, you could be entitled to compensation. The most common types of damages you could receive include the following:
Economic damages are the compensation you are awarded for things that are easily quantified in monetary terms. This can be medical expenses, which often includes your medical treatment from the surgical incident, but also any treatment or rehabilitation you might need in the future. Additionally, you could be entitled to lost wages as a result of being unable to work, as well as any other income you will be losing out on as a result of your injuries from the surgery.
Non-economic damages refer to compensation you are awarded for issues that aren’t able to be calculated into monetary terms as easily, such as pain and suffering. These damages are more difficult to calculate because they’re purely subjective. However, an experienced medical malpractice attorney will know how to make these calculations so that they can also ask for the correct amount of damages that you would be awarded.
In some states, you could be entitled to punitive damages. Punitive damages are the compensation you’re awarded as a way to punish the defendant and deter them and others from engaging in this type of behavior in the future. How much you’re entitled to and whether you can receive punitive damages will depend on what state you were injured in. Additionally, punitive damages are usually only awarded in extreme circumstances.
Many states have limits on how much compensation you can be awarded in a medical malpractice suit, especially for non-economic damages. This is something a lawyer can help you determine.
Morgan & Morgan Can Help
If you’re in the unfortunate situation where you find yourself asking, “what to do if my surgeon commits negligence,” you should speak with an experienced attorney right away. At Morgan & Morgan, we have countless experienced attorneys who can handle medical malpractice issues. When a surgeon acts negligently, they can obviously cause terrible injuries, or even death. It’s important that you take this seriously and contact an attorney right away. Even if you don’t suffer severe injuries, you should consider contacting a lawyer. It’s important to try to make sure the surgeon never behaves this way again. Maybe you can prevent someone else from being the victim of medical malpractice. Contact Morgan & Morgan today for help. We offer free and confidential case evaluations.